Jessica's Mumbo Jumbo

Take a glimpse into the world of an inattentive, oversensitive,hyperactive,& unorganized 33 year old mother with Attention Deficit Disorder!

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

A Blessing in Disguise?

Ever since I received notification of my non-renewal and not being granted tenure, I felt sorry for myself. I have felt like a failure and depressed; especially since these are feelings that I have dealt with throughout my entire life. When you have
ADD, you always have to prove yourself, work harder than most people and have a difficult time fitting in.This has always been my experience, and I feel like that may have contributed to their decision.

Since I was not given a reason for my nonrenewal, and being that I have to finish my contract until June 12, I become more and more sad as the year comes to an end. This year, was by far my favorite year. I love my students and have an excellent rapport with them. They are definitely an amazing group of kids. Being non-renewed with excellent observations, and no negative letters in my file, has left me surprised beyond belief. As well as numerous parents, students and faculty.

I saw this coming when a director, out of nowhere, told me I was screwing up, and that I need to learn how to listen and stop interrupting people. I took it upon myself to tell him I was diagnosed with ADD. Then a coworker of mine was spreading rumors that I showed a parent her negative comments about students that she posted on her Facebook Page. First of all, I do not have Facebook and second of all, I have better ways to use my time. This particular teacher made my life miserable my first year as my mentor and continued to do so during my second year. I know for a fact that I am not the only one. She is also friendly with this director… hmm.. Can we say politics? Oh yea, and this teacher, who is tenured, did not get into trouble because she has tenure.

Besides all of that crap, I keep obsessing over coming up with different reasons why this has happened. I think “What could I have done differently?” “Did I do something that I was not told about?” “Why do they not like me?” “Did I not work hard enough?” I mean, I know I taught Special Education (high school, nonetheless), taught the extended school year program for three years, tutored for the district and served as a Student Government Advisor for two years. I guess I needed to do more?

Today, I came to a new realization. Yes, I know I made small mistakes along the way. Small mistakes that have nothing to do with my classroom teaching. I know that teachers make small mistakes along the way, but I feel that this director was just out to get me. Despite that fact that I tutored any student that he wanted me to tutor, no matter the disability or level of difficulty. I tried to please him in anyway, and was always up for the challenge.  I feel like they just used me for three years; which was solely based on one person’s opinion of me (someone who has never read my perfect reviews, and has not even seen me teach) and then decided to not renew/ nor grant me tenure.

To me, it is not the “not getting tenure” part that bothers me, because I could care less about that aspect of teaching. This is  because in a way, I think tenure protects bad teachers. There are some bad teachers in my school, and I am not mentioning names or my district but there are, and nothing is ever done about it. A teacher made fun of students on Facebook, a teacher is known for showing movies, and a teacher arrives late or shows up whenever she pleases to school. I know of a teacher in my school who belittles the Special Ed. students and gossips about other teachers. ETC.ETC.ETC. The list goes on.

In my school, the teachers are broken up into cliques. It reminds me of being in high school. There are the jocks (the history teachers who coach sports), the “popular girls” who hang out with the jocks and also coach sports, there are the teachers who gossip to fit in, the nerdy teachers, the loners and the outcasts etc. Personally, some teachers have made me feel like an outcast and never took it upon themselves to try to get to know me as a person. I decided to avoid the teacher’s lounge because of the endless amount of gossip that goes on, and the cynical teachers who hate their jobs.All of that gossip and cynicism about other teachers and students just makes me plain old depressed. I enjoy eating in my classroom and I keep my door open for those students who want to study, get extra help or use my computers during my lunch. I would rather have my students come visit me than any of the teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have friends. A select few who have never labeled me, excluded me or made me feel like an outcast. They have entered this profession for all of the same reasons that I did. Not for the summers off, or to leave at 2. If you are a good teacher, you know that your job does not end at 2. I also entered it to teach kids and  touch their lives. I have formed bonds with about 5 teachers that I can trust and go to for support, which in itself, is enough for me. I wish there were more nonjudgemental people in this world like them.

After obsessing over this predicament, I have decided to look at this in a much more positive light. I think that this may have been a blessing in disguise. Maybe this is god’s way of telling me that there are bigger and better things out there for me. Maybe I was only supposed to be a teacher for three years, and now it is time to move on. I know this hurts, but sometimes I have to trust in god. I was never a religious person until my mom passed away, and when my life at that point as a teenager, started to snow ball into a series of difficult circumstances. However, I look back and I see all that I have accomplished on my own and it has only made me a stronger person. If I was able to overcome losing my mom at 18, being homeless, living on my own, living in a house with fleas before my mom died, having an emotionally/verbally abusive boyfriend at the time, and always having to deal with Dyfus, I say that I turned out pretty good. I strongly feel that this was god’s plan and he watched out for me.

I think at this moment, I need to trust in him. I need to trust that he has a new plan for me. I know that I put 150 % into my job (which is much more than most teachers put into), and so I know, and many will agree, that this was the result of politics in education.  God probably feels that this effort should be put into a new profession or school where my efforts will not be taken for granted/ go unrecognized.

This most definitely has to be a blessing in disguise, and I have to learn how to prevent myself from over-analyzing the situation. I need to look ahead more positively and trust that god will lead the way. I am going to finish out this school year to the best of my ability and look towards the future. I am sure that I will overcome this obstacle and will be able to look back and be proud that I overcame the situation.  I also need to realize that I had no control over it. Yes, one person may have been out to get me, however, not everyone in life is going to appreciate your hard work, but I am sure that there is someone who will someday. Whether it be a boss, a class, or a new employer, there will be someone who deserves and will not take my dedication for granted.I will not look at this as a loss, but as many lessons learned, and three years of experience. I will also know that I touched the lives of many amazing kids.

So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay–Frost

Pretty in Pink

The Fleeting Beauty of Nature

Just some random photos!

A.D.D. Has Ruined My Career

I have been trying to convince myself that things will eventually get better for me, and that this is just a small “bump in the road.” However, it just has not gotten any better. It has gotten much worse. I have cried while on hall duty, skipped cafeteria duty to sit in my room in the dark with the lights off to recompose myself. I have cried to my husband, myself and my mother in law. I have driven myself crazy trying to figure out what it is that I did wrong.

I have slept for hours and have forced myself to finish my contract–this is for the kids.Then I realized that I feel so strongly that I am being wrongfully terminated. Yes, this is clearly what it is…..

I have been told by my supervisors, that I am charismatic, energetic, creative and empathetic. I have also been told that I am an excellent teacher and that I can connect with my students. They have even told me that I am dedicated and hardworking. OK, so… What is the problem here?? Aren’t these all of the qualities that make a teacher outstanding??? I guess all of that clearly does not matter.

Right before I found out that my contract was not going to be renewed, I put a lot of thought into this. A week or two prior to this, I told the director that I have ADD. You see, he was yelling at me on the phone that I do not listen, interrupt people and do not get along with coworkers. Yes, I have the tendency to interrupt and it may seem as though I am not listening, but I know I get along with my coworkers. And I do, in fact, listen. Don’t let me forget that I handed my time cards in late for tutoring, and was screamed at for that, even though I asked for extra time. All of these symptoms combined are a part of my ADD.They clearly just DO NOT care!

Well, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “An individual with a disability is defined  as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment” (www.ada.gov). I am an individual with a disability and it does limit me from being able to complete tasks at work at the same rate as other people.

The A.D.A also states that it ” requires that employers to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities” (www.ada.gov). Oh, really? Well, I have been denied being provided with accommodations such as extended time. And being that I am a Special Education Teacher who knows the laws that protects individuals with disabilities, all that I have to say is, they are screwed.

I am sick and tired of my principal saying “You need to listen” and “stop interrupting me.” I am sick and tired of it. I have worked so hard and am a well respected teacher, that I feel like that just does not matter at all.

You would think that a public school would be more understanding and willing to accommodate you, but no, they just look at you as a hindrance to their “business.”

Teacher Appreciation Week My &@#$!!

 

I feel like this week should have been called “Teacher Un-Appreciation Week” It is usually during this week that teachers are given their notices of non-renewal or renewal, so why the HELL are they calling it “Teacher Appreciation Week??”

I feel unappreciated as a teacher because I was not only denied tenure, but they did not renew my contract. My district decided to show us just how much they appreciate all of our dedication and hard work  by giving us a bag of stale popcorn in our mailboxes.Just what I always wanted! How sweet. I am sure the birds will appreciate the taste of cardboard.

I have been working in my district as a Special Education Teacher at the highschool level for the past three years. I worked hard to get where I am and I absolutely love my job. I actually look forward to going to work every morning. That was until I received devastating news last Friday that I was not going to be granted tenure/renewed!

Now mind you, I have been picturing what it would be like to be awarded tenure, and in my eyes I undoubtably felt that I deserved it. I can genuinely say that I put all of my effort into teaching my students ,and that I was 100 % dedicated. That day will forever be engraved in my mind, and has left a bad taste in my mouth in regards to how the public education system is ran. It just goes to show you, that they do not have the best interest of the kids, especially when letting a good teacher go.

It is strange because I have never been fired before, but that day I could sense it, and as it turned out, my intuition was right. It all started when the Special Ed. Department was given their allotted budget to purchase materials for their classroom. I was the only teacher who was not provided with the paperwork. I asked my principal why and he stated “I must have overlooked you.”

Overlooked me? Yea right. I knew right then and there that he was lying and that something fishy was up. I hate bullshit artists.Later on in the day, my principal asked me to step into his office, and I knew that then and there that this was not going to be good. Anytime, you are sent to the principal’s office, you can never expect it to be good.

I was told that my contract was not going to be renewed for the 2012/2013 school year. My first thought: Are you %^&$%*# kidding me?  I started to hyperventilate and cry and I stormed out of his office. I know crying is a sign of weakness and all, but I think it is a sign of showing just how much you truly love your job. Of course, the news spread amongst the staff, students and parents because all that it took was one person to find out. I feel like as I walk through the halls, I get looks of pity and of disdain. I feel like I am wearing a permanent Scarlet Letter.

The even worse part of this whole situation is the fact that they do not have to give nontenured teachers a reason.  Non-tenured teachers do not have the same rights as tenured teachers. Tenured teachers have due process rights and can only be fired if they do something very bad. Now, in my district, I have no idea what they consider to be bad because we have teachers ,who,and  I’m sorry to say this, SUCK. We have teachers who show movies all of the time, come late to work, are always absent and are only in it for the summers off. This really makes me mad because I put so much time and effort into my job, and I am always there late. I have even  developed good relationships with the janitors because of this… I feel like sometimes, all of your hard work gets you no where, and goes unappreciated. Now I am back at square one–right where I was after I graduated from college.

Okay, so this whole “I’m sorry but we are not renewing your contract” thing was difficult enough as it is, but then all of the bullshit that goes along with it has made this situation that much more worse. Since I work in a very poor district where our budget never passes and has little to no money, my principal “suggested” that I resign. Hmmm.. I wonder why he would want me to do that? Are you trying to get me to not  collect unemployment so that the district can avoid paying me! Awesome… Yea, because I would do that… I have a mortgage to pay damn it. Then he tries to blackmail me with “Now if you resign, then you are more likely to get a letter of recommendation.” Yea right, like I am going to believe you.

Since I have not been told yet, why I am not being renewed, I keep driving myself crazy trying to come up with reasons. As a nontenured teacher, I have the right to request a letter from the Superintendent which states specifically their reasons for the nonrenewal. I can’t wait to open up that letter! Not.

After I receive my letter, I have the right to something called a “Donaldson Hearing.” This is an informal hearing where you can try to fight for your job. The number of teachers who actually get their job back after a Donaldson Hearing are slim to none. No thanks, why would I want to work where I am not wanted? And embarrass myself before the Board. My principal said if I do this, then I will not get a letter of recommendation. I feel like  I have wasted three long and stressful years of my life. Although I absolutely love my job.

What makes it even worse is that I have to finish working until the end of June to finish my contract. It kind of sucks having to work and when every memberl of the staff know that you were canned. What makes it even worse is students know, so at times, I get very emotional and start to cry. I know… I.am.ridiculous.

I have come to the conclusion that this job is very political. It does not matter that my students love me. Or that parents keep writing letters to the Board of Ed. telling them how crazy they are for letting a dedicated teacher go.  It does not matter if students are having a petition signed to try to convince them to let me stay. None of that matters.

What makes me livid is that I was never given a “needs improvement” in my observations (which is grounds for firing), nor did I get complaints about my classroom teaching. I received a parent complaint from a crazy parent who said I was defaming her son’s character by telling him to “step it up a notch.” I hate those “my kid is always right, no one can harm my child type parents.” Well, that was strike one.

Then, I had a parent complain who said I made her daughter feel “cognitively impaired.” Like, seriously lady, I am a Special Education Teacher, I would never do that. What parent keeps their child on home instruction for 3 years? And then has the nerve to complain  because she wanted me to provide Special Ed. services to her daughter who is an honors students.

Strike two.

Since I have ADD, I have a difficult time keeping up with organization and my time cards for tutoring. It is very time-consuming especially since I actually teach (and do not sit at my desk). I barely have enough time as it is for myself and for the work that my job actually entails. Since my husband gets laid off occasionally due to his type of work in the union, I decided to hold on to my tutoring time cards until later in the year, so then that way I could have the money for the summer.Well, it turns out that I made about $4500 dollars and the Board of Ed. was pissed. Now when I mean pissed, they were PISSED.

Lets just say that this was strike three.

I am not sure if this is directly related to my situation, however, I think that it might be. A  teacher who has bullied me for the past three years, posted some bad comments about students on her Facebook page. Then she was spreading gossip around the school that I was the one who printed the comments out and turned her in. No, sorry lady, I have better things to do with my life than worry about you. Maybe you should think before you post, and perhaps make your page private. Or maybe you should just delete your page altogether?  It is just a thought!!Did she think a parent was never going to do this? Like seriously??? Are you kidding me? Then you go around the whole entire school saying that I set you up! Go to %$##! If  I were that parent, I would have done the same thing!

I will soon find out what their reasons are once I receive the letter. I am really dying to know what their reasons are for not renewing my contract. I am also scared to read it because I feel like it will do a number on my self-esteem. But who would not want to know?I am sure that, whatever their reason might be, they are going to lie. I bet they have a family member who needs a job, and then they figure they would get rid of a nontenured teacher.

In the meantime, I am not sure what my future may  hold. This is probably a blessing in disguise, and I will realize this when the time comes. Maybe I was not cut out to be a teacher. Maybe I just was not a good fit. Who knows.I know I have many options open and I am going to start looking into going to back to school. I am not sure whether or not I am ready to try to get a new teaching job. I feel as though  I have been burned pretty badly. All I know is that it is their loss and they will eventually see that they made a terrible decision.

“The Father of Horror”

edgar_allan_poe_by_crisvector-d3jswe4

Every year, I teach Edgar Allan Poe, and, although my students are reluctant to read his works at first,  they end up loving him. The one fact that they never forget is that he married his 13 year old cousin (even though she was his cousin through marriage). Out of all the facts that they learn about Poe, this is what they are amazed with! kids! Then they start to say he is a creep and a cradle robber….

Recently, we just finished reading “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee” -(some loved the poems , while others hated them!) I can’t make everyone happy!

A few of my students arrived to class today telling me that they saw the movie “The Raven” which just came out starring John Cusack. Just so you readers know, the movie does not follow the poem “The Raven,” however, the title of the movie fits because a raven was considered to be a messenger of death. Isn’t that charming? My students said they felt misled by the title, but they loved it!

Of course,  being a huge Poe fan, I just had to see it! My husband even mustered up enough energy to tag along!  Surprisingly, I LOVED it. My husband could not believe that I actually sat through the entire film! ( I get bored VERY easily) I LOVED how they incorporated different aspects of his short stories throughout the movie. I am not going to give too much detail because I don’t want to ruin it, but it is a must see!

Also, Cusack portrayed an accurate depiction of Poe (in my eyes–based on what I have read about Poe’s life). The movie  allowed me to  view Poe in a different light. After you read about his biography, you think he is a bit disturbed and crazy. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s Poe! After viewing “The Raven” I sorta had a new found respect for Poe. I empathized with him on a whole new level and saw a romantic side of him that I was unable to see before.

Throughout my years in college, Poe, was my all time favorite American Poet. I love how he is best known for his dark and dreary works that are filled with gothic elements. My  favorite poems by Poe are “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” which both focus on the theme death of a beautiful woman. Because his poetry is so beautiful, I always catch  myself reciting lines from them repeatedly in my mind, such as his famous lines from “The Raven”.. “quote the raven nevermore” and “once upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary.” The lines from”Annabel Lee” that I cannot forget are: ” For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams; And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes.”

Gotta love good ole’ internal rhyme!

There is something absolutely intriguing about Poe’s works that make him an extraordinary writer. In my mind, although he was deranged and fully embodied the characteristics of a madman, he was absolutely brilliant. In many ways, I feel as though I can truly relate to  Poe’s life. I believe, many of us can, one way or another.

I can relate to him on many different levels— minus the ability to write gruesome horror stories… Like Poe, I lost my mother and my father had left when I was young.  I was adopted and so was Poe. He struggled with mental illness and despite the fact that my husband has called me crazy several times, I have been diagnosed with ADD, Bipolar and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Hey, what do ya know? It is always the crazy ones who are creative.

Like Poe, writing has always been my outlet of expression.  He had such a gift and it was a shame that he was not recognized sooner. I truly admire Poe, because despite all of the obstacles he had faced in life, he became a success and his legacy lives on.

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